wishing for the UFOs to whisk me away

I wished it was so simple, that this is just a post-holiday syndrome as described by my friend. But maybe I am just not wont to escape the 2-year curse, who knows? In any case, I am still trying to be patient.

Many years ago when I was in Tokyo for a business trip that spanned almost a month, a colleague and I spent an astronomical sum of money in the amusement arcades with those UFO machines. I think they are named thus because of the claw-like apparatus that is suspended from the top of the machine, which you navigate using a joy-stick to try to grab the plushies (usually that is the case) contained in the machine, that resembles a hovering UFO? Back then, since we went out together each weekend, we would pass by some of the shops and go in to deposit our 100-yen coins with these machines. Of course we didn’t leave empty-handed; such is the beauty and perhaps lure of the UFO machines. Although the plushies that we chose to try our luck for are the ones that we would want to have, it isn’t so much as owning them and adding them to our stash of soft-toys at home than the thrill and accomplishment at successfully getting a toy. Sometimes it was exciting enough to watch others do it but nothing beats personally winning a toy from the machine, and the thing is in Tokyo these machines actually yield results, not like the ones I’ve seen in Singapore where it is virtually impossible to get anything out of it.

In December when I passed by one such shop in Shinjuku I thought I’d just give it a go, but I do limit myself to say 500 yen; if I don’t get anything after spending 500 yen, I’d give up and walk out. So I got the pink striped thing, I don’t know what it is supposed to be, a rabbit? I don’t display my soft toys at home due to space constrains and also because they are huge dust magnets. This pink plushie, being small, could fit comfortably in a pouch that remains indefinitely in my luggage. I thought it’s cute and its smiley face could perhaps brighten up my day a little when I’m overseas and need some cheer.

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Last week when I walked past the same shop in Shinjuku, I popped in again to browse the machines and what they had. There wasn’t much that I was interested in but one of the machines contained some plushies similar to the pink one, so I tried my luck, and 300 yen later I got this yellow/pink-striped one that I think should be a bear. It looks a little sad though, but at least now they have company. 🙂

It is also strawberry season in Japan now, or at least based on what I have seen, strawberries and strawberry-flavoured items seem to be ubiquitous. While I was at the food hall of Takashimaya (oh how I loved these places), I got myself a box of giant strawberries that were not exactly sweet or too sour. I liked the way they tasted and also they were all similar-sized to facilitate easy packing I suppose.20130425-090502.jpg

I think if I were to live in Japan, I would be a regular at food halls and combinis. There are lots of great food all over and it isn’t hard to find affordable food that still taste really great, but I think I can already survive with the abundance of fruits and other groceries available in the food halls and combinis. 20130425-090512.jpg

I have always contemplated taking a break from work (yes again) and using that time more productively, to go to Tokyo to study Japanese, hopefully through the immersion in the language on a daily basis I would be able to improve. Studying the language in Singapore once a week for 2.5 hours without practising and using it hardly helps in improving but that is also partly my own undoing because I am hesitant to use it in class. Even when I am in Japan I don’t use it much because English is understood (to a certain extent) in Tokyo and I am not confident at all in myself and my grasp of the language. The Japanese speak too fast for me to catch what they are saying, and I can’t think on my feet fast enough to respond even if I were to comprehend. Sigh… decisions.

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